Category: news

FemiTI initiative enlists more Ghana girls into STEM

With a significant drop-out rate of girls from primary school to secondary school and college, one new initiative in Ghana aims to improve the country’s innovation, competitiveness and productivity by bringing more girls into the formal digital fold.

A report by the World Wide Web foundation found that women in poor urban areas in developing countries are 50% less likely to use the Internet than men. 

FemiTI is a project initiated by the DreamOval Foundation that aims to train young girls to develop problem-solving skills through coding and robotics and empower them to facilitate technology creation to generate opportunities for Societal Transformation, thereby ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education. The first edition of FemiTI has just been concluded in partnership with SAP.
According to reports, 75% of girls in Ghana attend primary school, but there’s a significant drop in girls in high school and college. The DreamOval Foundation believes this gap can be bridged through the active development of women by introducing them to STEM-related programmes. 

Francis Ahene-Affoh, Senior Vice President at the DreamOval Foundation, said: “We believe in empowering women in the 21st century as they play a key role in the development process. We identified these girls from underprivileged communities who can be empowered digitally to become problem-solvers for their communities.”
Cathy Smith, Managing Director at SAP Africa, said this has implications for efforts toward building peaceful, prosperous and sustainable communities. “Our support for FemiTI is in line with our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially as they related to Gender Equality (#5) and Quality Education (#4) and aligns well with our broader activities to bring more women into the digital fold, including Africa Code Week, Women in Data Science and #SheInnovates.”

 

www.dreamoval.org

Vodafone Ghana has partnered with Facebook to deploy express Wi-Fi in residential areas

Express Wi-Fi aims to reduce barriers to connectivity such as limited infrastructure and high data costs, giving more people, such as small business entrepreneurs and developers, the opportunity to connect and build community. The Wi-Fi will enable retail entrepreneurs to offer fast and affordable Wi-Fi services at hotspots spread across communities.

Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Ghana, Yolanda Cuba, said, “It is necessary for everyone no matter his or her background to connect to industrial and digital revolution especially in the current world where technology dominates.

 

She said according to the National Communications Authority, despite a data penetration rate of 80.3 per cent, large portions of underprivileged Ghanaians were still unable to afford easy access to data due to the price.

She noted that the partnership between the two progressive technology companies was set to transform an industry that was already making a concerted effort to establish data dominance in the sub-region, adding that, Vodafone had already deployed hotspots within Accra for the initiative at areas including Nima, Maamobi, Pigfarm, Jamestown and Abossey Okai.

“Affordability remains an issue for users in the underserved regions of the country, despite their high demand for data, and this initiative is the answer,” she said. Express Wi-Fi has also been deployed in a number of countries, including India, Kenya, Indonesia, Nigeria and Tanzania.

 Fundisiwe Maseko, ICT News Africa.

Connecting African software developers with top tech companies nets Andela $100 million

Andela, the company that connects Africa’s top software developers with technology companies from the U.S. and around the world, has raised $100 million in a new round of funding.

The new financing from Generation Investment Management (the investment fund co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore) puts the valuation of the company at somewhere between $600 million and $700 million, based on data available from PitchBook on the company’s valuation following its previous $40 million funding.

“It’s increasingly clear that the future of work will be distributed, in part due to the severe shortage of engineering talent,” says Jeremy Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Andela. “Given our access to incredible talent across Africa, as well as what we’ve learned from scaling hundreds of engineering teams around the world, Andela is able to provide the talent and the technology to power high-performing teams and help companies adopt the distributed model faster.”

The company now has more than 200 customers paying for access to the roughly 1,100 developers Andela has trained and manages.

Since its founding in 2014, Andela has seen more than 130,000 applicants for those 1,100 slots. After a promising developer is onboarded and goes through a six-month training bootcamp at one of the company’s coding campuses in Nigeria, Kenya,  Rwanda or Uganda, they’re placed with an Andela customer to work as a remote, full-time employee.

Andela receives anywhere from $50,000 to $120,000 per developer from a company and passes one-third of that directly on to the developer, with the remainder going to support the company’s operations and cover the cost of training and maintaining its facilities in Africa. Coders working with Andela sign a four-year commitment (with a two-year requirement to work at the company), after which they’re able to do whatever they want.

Even after the two-year period is up, Andela boasts a 98 percent retention rate for developers, according to a person with knowledge of the company’s operations.

With the new cash in hand, Andela says it will double in size, hiring another thousand developers, and invest in new product development and its own engineering and data resources. Part of that product development will focus on refining its performance monitoring and management toolkit for overseeing remote workforces. 

“We believe Andela is a transformational model to develop software engineers and deploy them at scale into the future enterprise,” says Lilly Wollman, co-head of Growth Equity at Generation Investment Management, in a statement. “The global demand for software engineers far exceeds supply, and that gap is projected to widen. Andela’s leading technology enables firms to effectively build and manage distributed engineering teams.”

Jonathan Shieber, TechCrunch

KNUST Teaching Assistant manufactures 600 capacity affordable incubator

David Wakpal, who is with the Department of Animal Science, has managed to make a 600-capacity incubator for hatching chicks. Interestingly, Wakpal’s incubators are very affordable for farmers who are into the business of poultry. Farmers in Ghana have often shied away from using incubators due to how expensive they are on the market. Wakpal said he has been researching into affordable ways of producing incubators since his second year in the university. According to him, the idea of making an affordable incubator came to him after he struggled to buy one for his own turkey farm. “It all started when I was seriously in need of an incubator for my turkey farm. The only way I could get one was to import or buy from an importer and it was expensive,” he told Luv FM. “I later realised that this wasn’t a problem I alone faced, a lot of farmers were in need of it too. I concentrated on it so much sometimes I had to miss lectures.” Through hard work, he managed to build his first fully automated incubator in his final year. His very first incubator was built and assembled in his room because he didn’t have the capital to make the venture big.

 “Price is less than half the imported one. This can be serviced in Ghana because it was built by us and again adapted to our climate. “This is a 600 capacity fully automated incubator. Later I tested at the Olympio hatchery, KNUST and it had a good hatching percentage.” “It has a hatching percentage of over 80 percent,” he explained. Although locally made, Wakpal’s incubators are of high quality and have “an automatic temperature and humidity control.” The incubators also have “automatic egg turning systems, automatic ventilation, over limit protection controls and warning alarm system.” Wakpal’s hope is that poultry farmers around the country will get access to quality but cheap fully automated incubators to make their farms more productive.

Pulse.com.gh

Mercer partners with Learning Organization to tap local talent

Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and careers, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies has announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Learning Organization, a Ghana based Consulting firm.

Through the partnership, Mercer and Learning Organization will be able to bring leading talent management, consulting, and data driven solutions and insights to the local market, which will benefit both current and prospective new Mercer and Learning Organization clients in Ghana. Clients will have access to a range of best practice Mercer solutions, driven by the global thought leadership. Nicolette Hendricks, CEO, South Africa, said: “We are excited to be partnering with such a strong and reputable player in Ghana, and the broad knowledge this new partnership will bring to the table to help Ghanaian organizations to thrive in HR management and workforce performance and create rewarding and more secure futures for their employees.”

 

Learning Organization specializes in providing outstanding benefits, career development, employee motivational programs and implement customized solutions that have been carefully tailored to help businesses achieve greater heights and also enhance the quality of an organization’s human capital. Learning Organization is committed to advancing best HR practices by supporting a culture of innovation and opportunity and on helping employees improve productivity across all areas of a business.

Says Isaac Sackey, Chief Executive Officer of Learning Organization, “Our mission is to transform organizational performance through people development. As a recognized representative of Mercer in Ghana, we are well poised and committed to strengthening and expanding the provision of leading organizational solutions to all sectors in Ghana. This partnership further extends our capacity to meet demand and enhance bespoke change solutions to our valued clients.”

Bob Koigi, Africa Business Communities

Digital Afrique Telecom Launches Smart Card, Ticketing System for Efficient Transportation

Digital Afrique Telecom (DAT) has announced the successful launch of a Smart Card and Ticketing system to enable Ivorian public transport users to board over 700 buses everyday through contactless cards.

This smart ticketing service allows each passenger of SOTRA, the Abidjan local bus company, to buy and top up a smart card online using the platform powered by DAT. DAT makes the life of both Bus Company and users simple through a seamless and cashless system that speed up boarding and cash management.

 

Simplice Anoh, CEO of DAT stated “The smart ticketing system is the living example of the digital revolution we are set to trigger at Digital Afrique Telecom. Ivorians and Africans deserve to benefit from the power of technology through innovative solutions that can improve their daily lives and the transport industry is now part of it”

Smart cards can be top up using any mobile money services as well as bank e-wallets available in Côte d’Ivoire via a user friendly interface. The system is interoperable and offers USSD, App and Web access, with OTC options at SOTRA point of sales. DAT has also installed NFC enabled validators for contactless purposes.

The solution developed by DAT allows SOTRA to control the revenue generated by each of the 700 buses currently using the system. SOTRA plans to reach 1,000 buses using the solution by the end of 2019.

DAT ticketing platform also includes an event feature to manage tickets for football games or concerts. Organizers now have a powerful tool to control their revenues and guarantee ROI.

Simplice Anoh added “By going digital with electronic ticketing systems, transport companies and event organisers will boost their operating margins while keeping their customers happy. This is a great step towards the overall efforts to bring in the digital transformation to life in Africa”.

Bob Koigi, Africa Business Communities

Money sets sight on doubling mobile wallet operations in Africa in first half of 2019

While Africa continues to be driven largely by cash transactions, it is a known fact that the mobile wallet segment is growing year on year within the region.

With the pace at which the segment is growing it is safe to assume that Africa will soon be driven by mobile money in the next few years.

According to the financial inclusion survey by World Bank’s Global Findex Database in 2017, 21% of adults in the region had a mobile money account, almost double than in 2014 and possibly the highest of any region in the world.

Mobile money paved way for financial inclusion in Africa, it plays a vital role in empowering people financially by providing them access to their money – a right that millions of people were deprived of in the region because of poor financial infrastructure.

The convenience and safety of the service has led to an increasing demand for mobile money services. Global Money transfer organization Xpress Money, part of the Finablr network of brands witnessed a record 37% growth in Mobile Wallet Credits to Africa last year and foresees a similar trend this year too.

Xpress Money cashed in on the fact that more than half of the world’s mobile money services operate in Africa.

“While the journey of mobile money technology started with M-Pesa in East Africa, today West Africa and South Africa are strong bastions for mobile money services. Uganda, Burundi Tanzania, Nigeria and Zimbabwe are few of the other important mobile markets in Africa in addition to Kenya.Leveraging our reach in the continent, we have tied up with telecom service providers to expand our mobile wallet network in 2019. We are on the verge of launching a few more countries for mobile wallet services and by the first half of the year we are looking to double the number of countries for mobile wallets from our current base in the region,” said Xpress Money COO, Sudhesh Giriyan.

The rise of mobile wallets is intrinsically linked to the increase of inexpensive mobile phones across the African continent. A gamut of financial services like payments, savings, loans etc. can be accessed through mobile phones.

McKinsey estimates that Africa has 100 million active Mobile Financial Services (MFS) customers accounting for transactions worth $2.1 billion. Africa is leading from the front in the mobile financial services space as the number of people joining the mobile money bandwagon is consistently on the rise.

The social and financial impact of mobile wallets has helped people channelize their savings better, endure financial setbacks and have access to structured financial services. Mobile wallet services have been a gateway towards financial inclusion across Africa.

Xpress Money, established in 1999, is one of the most dependable money transfers brand in the world with a global presence in more than 160 countries through partnerships that have a network of over 160,000 locations.

The brand is consistently raising the bar by accelerating its remittance footprint, foraying into new countries and collaborating with key telecom providers to access innovative service platforms across Africa.

The number of customers reaching out for mobile wallets far outnumbers those accessing other services. It may be safe to say that mobile wallets are gaining precedence among the African customer and Xpress Money is an integral part of the continent’s dynamic mobile wallet landscape.

www.xpressmoney.com

How a team from Kenya built world’s first plastic dhow

The traditional dhow is made from wood, but an ambitious new project is making waves in the waters of East Africa. A dhow made entirely from recycled plastic aims to go on at least two expeditions this year. Its first voyage from the Kenyan island of Lamu to Stone Town in Zanzibar, Tanzania, began this month.

Dubbed the FlipFlopi Project, the dhow will make several stops in towns and cities along its 500 km route to spread a “plastic revolution” to the coastal communities of Kenya and Tanzania, according to Dipesh Pabari, the project’s team leader. Pabari said the FlipFlopi Project aims to engage and raise awareness to local communities along the route on the dangers of single-use plastics and to teach them how to recycle their plastic.

“The main aim is to build on the story of this plastic revolution and to continue to highlight to the world that single-use plastic items are dreadful,” Pabari told UN Environment.

How the dhow is made.

The rainbow-colored FlipFlopi dhow is 9 meters long and made from discarded plastics picked up during regular clean-ups of the ocean. It is the first dhow made entirely from recycled plastic.

The boat was built on Lamu Island in its entirety by Ali Skanda, the chief boat builder who also works as a project leader alongside Pabari, and a crew of volunteer crew members.

Pabari says this makes the project distinctly African.

“It is so important that this is an African story because Africa is one of the few continents left that hasn’t necessarily gone the whole way towards a consumption-led society yet,” Pabari says.

The FlipFlopi Project is supported by the UN Environment and the Kenyan government in its latest effort to combat plastic pollution. In 2017, the government imposed the world’s most stringent ban on plastic bags, with anyone caught producing, selling, or using them, risking imprisonment for up to four years or fines of $40,000. Kenyans use about 24 million plastic bags monthly, according to an estimate by The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Many of these plastics end up polluting the oceans and filling the stomachs of sea animals with waste until they starve to death.

More plastic pieces than fish.

According to the UNEP, the fish in the oceans will be outnumbered by pieces of plastic, threatening marine ecosystems, wildlife, and tourism by 2050. The Kenyan government imposed the ban to protect the beach resorts along its coastlines that are popular among tourists.

Tourism is a top foreign currency earner for Kenya, with almost $3 billion in direct contribution to the country’s GDP according to a 2018 forecast by The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

Pabari says the FlipFlopi Project team will hold events in towns along their routes, meeting with schoolchildren, government officials and people in the local communities. “We’ll be holding recycling workshops, teaching people simple things, like how to make rope out of plastic bottles using very rudimentary technology,” he said.

Aanu Adeoye, CNN

GreenTec invests into SuperFluid Labs

GreenTec has announced its investment in SuperFluid Labs, a SAAS provider or data analytics and artificial intelligence solutions.

SuperFluid has developed a comprehensive data analytics platform that can assess credit scores and provide business intelligence more effectively through Big Data and artificial intelligence.

The SuperFluid team consists of data scientists, engineers, and mathematicians; who have built a proprietary technology platform that has customer transactional data to automatically reveal customer behaviors and trends (eg credit risk and defaults), as well as helping to reduce engagement, reduce churn risk, and increase overall profitability. The company’s mission is to bring AI to businesses and consumers to economic growth and opportunities.

The company has already established a successful consulting business providing their analytics services to MFIs such as responsAbility, as well as traditional banks like Fidelity Bank (Ghana) and NIC Bank (Kenya) to name a few.

Next, SuperFluid plans to expand their offerings targeting e-commerce clients, helping businesses to offer their own credit services to qualified customers. Capturing transactional data from multiple sources will allow SuperFluid to develop robust market-focused credit scoring models.

This will provide the company with a competitive advantage on international agencies that are limited by African regional and regional scoring companies.

By providing bespoke analytics to banks, eCommerce platforms, and MFIs the company plans to sacrifice a Pan-African credit scoring solution help expand financial integration to African Africans as well as empower.

greentec-capital.com

African Innovators Shine during Zayed Sustainability Prize’s 2019 Awards Ceremony

African innovators excelled at this year’s Zayed Sustainability Prize annual awards ceremony on January 14 2019, winning in three out of five categories including Energy, Food and Global High Schools.  

The 2019 Zayed Sustainability Prize, which is the UAE’s pioneering global award in sustainability, honoured leaders whose work and spirit of enterprise has resulted in working solutions across communities around the world. With over 2,000 submissions from 130 countries, the highest number of applications came from Africa, which is a testament to the growing role African innovators are playing in global innovation. Their technologies addressed real-life social, environmental, health and economic challenges, as well as reflected the aspirations of a new generation of innovators within a continent that has one of the world’s biggest youth populations.

In congratulating the winners, Dr. Lamya Fawwaz, Director of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, said: “In a world of changing climate, and a rapidly growing population, developing sustainable solutions to meet rising food demand and provide energy access to people in remote areas is a global priority. These worthy winners among many strong candidates, are perfect examples of how to meet the Prize’s criteria of being innovative, inspirational and offering tangible impact within communities.”  

Picking up the Prize in the Food category was Tanzania’s Sanku, for its flour fortification machines that equip and incentivise small-scale, local millers to fortify their flour with life-saving nutrients. Sanku has currently installed 150 fortification machines in flour mills across five East African countries, impacting the lives of almost one million people daily by providing them safer and healthier food sources. Commenting on the win, Felix Brooks-Church, co-founder and CEO of Sanku, said: “16,000 children die every day from illnesses that are absolutely preventable. We have a solution, and so we have the duty to keep fighting in order to reduce that number to zero.”

The winner in the Energy category was BBOXX, which has developed a plug-and-play solar device offering users an on-grid experience in an off-grid setting – a truly transformative solution that is changing hundreds of thousands of lives in Africa. The company has so far installed over 150,000 solar systems across 35 countries many of which are in Africa and has connected over 675,000 people globally with clean, affordable energy solutions. Mansoor Hamayun, CEO and co-founder of BBOXX, commented on winning the Prize saying: “We are passionate about harnessing pioneering data and technology to power economic growth and transform the lives of underserved communities living off-grid. Winning this award is an important milestone along our journey.”

Within the Global High Schools category, the African Leadership Academy in South Africa won for its proposed creation of a water treatment machine called ‘The Living Machine’; a device they designed to treat greywater for use in greenhouses. Their proposal also included the implementation of solar power to reduce electricity costs; savings that will be used to fund additional renewable energy projects, waste management and best agriculture practices. Commenting on the win, Jesse Forrester, Project Lead of African Leadership Academy’s Living Machine Project, said: “I am immensely pleased with the announcement. It is quite humbling for us as a team and even more so as an institution. Being recognised as the winners of the Global High Schools Category, for Sub-Saharan Africa, is a testament to the belief that we are stronger together.”

In the other categories, ECOSOFTT was awarded in the Water category for its decentralised community water management standard, which outlines a set of solutions for source management, water use, water recycling and discharge. In the Health category, ‘We Care Solar’ received the award for its Solar Suitcase, a portable maternity device to assist with childbirth and related medical services in off-grid rural areas.

The other five recipients of the 2019 Global High Schools category were: The Impact School (Guatemala), representing The Americas; Gymnasium Goethe (Tajikistan), representing Europe & Central Asia; American School of Dubai (UAE), representing the Middle East and North Africa region; SECMOL (India), representing South Asia; and Muntinlupa National High School (The Philippines), representing East Asia  Pacific.

Winners of each category receive US$600,000 in prize funds to enhance and develop their existing solution. In the Global High Schools category, six schools from six world regions receive up to US$100,000 each, to create or enhance a school or local community project.

www.zayedsustainabilityprize.com